The final “test” event for the future ORV park in Groveland Township happened to be the biggest — by more than 1,000 people.
Detroit 4Fest was held Saturday, Sept. 14 at Holly Oaks ORV Park.
Organizer Tom Zielinski estimates 5,000 people attended. “I couldn’t have imagined it going better than it did,” he said. Full shuttle buses ran from the Mt. Holly parking lot the entire day of the event. He said the parking lot and grass lawn were full of attendees’ vehicles.
“I think it ‘screams’ the need for such a thing,” Zielinski said. “I think it speaks very loudly to interest in making a recreation corridor.”
The ORV (off road vehicle) event was at Holly Oaks ORV Park, which is the site of a former gravel mine that has since been developed into a 113-acre plus destination for four-wheeling enthusiasts.
The official operating agreement was approved between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission in April, and the name “Holly Oaks” was chosen this summer.
This dream of an ORV park near Mt. Holly has been in the works since before 2014.
The park will be open in the summer of 2020, and Detroit 4Fest was the sole public event at the park until it opens. There have been several private events at the park, including the
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“Bent Wheel” motocross event and the “Frozen Mines Run” in February. Both were well attended.
Since Frozen Mines, they’ve added more than 26 trails, obstacles, hill climbs, descents, rock courses, trails around lakes, and a sand course. They’ve built trails for stock vehicles as well, in conjunction with auto manufacturers.
Detroit 4Fest was free to attend, but there was a cost to drive the course. General admission was $50. The “VIP Package” was $150, which included lunch, “special VIP swag bag,” private off-road driving lesson, three additional day passes and more.
There were 400 driving tickets sold, and 50 were for the VIP pass. Zielinski estimates they could have sold far more tickets, but chose to cap the number of drivers to give them space on the trails. He said there was a waiting list of 70 people.
A portion of ticket sales benefitted Ronald McDonald House Charities. “It’s absolutely just a wonderful thing to see the response from the local community, and off-road community around southeast Michigan and beyond,” he said. “We really feel this is going to be a recreational and economic driver for the local area and the region.” Registrants hail from all parts of Michigan and the surrounding Great Lakes region.
While it cost money to drive the trails, visiting the vendor area was free. The 24 vendors included auto manufacturers like Jeep and Ford, along with Roxor, Magna and General RV. Zielinski believes that the caliber of vendors speaks to interest that exists in off-road driving.
He said until this moment, there were few places to drive off-road legally in southeast Michigan. The Mounds ORV Park near Mt. Morris is the only park nearby, but offers fewer trails and more muddy scramble areas.
Like many off-roaders he would go up north to drive off-road. “Now people can do it in their backyard, literally,” Zielinski said.